Agenda item

Planning White Paper - Planning for a Sustainable Future (Agenda item 9)

Report of the Operations Manager (Commercial Services).


The Government had recently published the Planning White Paper – Planning a Sustainable Future which set out the Government’s detailed proposals for reform of the planning system, building on Kate Barker’s recommendations for improving the speed, responsiveness and efficiency in land use planning, and taking forward Kate Barker’s and Rod Eddington’s proposals for reform of major infrastructure planning.  The White Paper was the subject of consultation until 17 August 2007 and the proposals contained within the White Paper were principally the Government’s response to the two reports as outlined in the report.  These proposals could be examined in more detail at Appendix 1 of the report.


The Development Services Manager explained that there were a number of “daughter” papers that had accompanied this report which would be presented to the Development Committee at a later date.


The key recommendations from Kate Barker’s report and Rod Eddington’s analysis of the delivery system for transport infrastructure were highlighted.


Members were informed that the planning policy guidance notes would now be named as planning policy statements.  The Government was also looking to move away from the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) and move towards the Governing body, the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).  The Planning White Paper was also looking to remove the need for planning permissions for some commercial developments.


The key proposals had been split up in a number of ways as follows:


1)                  To provide a positive framework for delivering sustainable development, supports local government in this place shaping role and improving speed efficiency and customer focus within the planning system.

2)                  A positive framework for delivering sustainable development.

3)                  Strengthening the role of local authorities in place shaping.


In response to a question, Members were informed that the forthcoming White Paper would not slow down the progress of the Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF).


Questions and concerns were raised as follows:


Appendix A – Page 13 – 2nd bullet point


“Site allocations may not always be needed and core strategies to include strategic sites (consultation in August).” 


The Development Services Manager advised that the Officers had not been entirely convinced that this issue related to an area such as Breckland and therefore would not be supported.


Appendix B - page 14 - 2nd bullet point (i)


A reduced need for planning applications for minor developments”.


A Member asked the Development Services Manager what this Order would mean for a local authority.


In response, it was explained that the detailed proposals had been based on:


a)      Developments with no or low impacts on neighbours or on the area outside the immediate site being permitted under the new Order; and

b)      Those developments considered to have more than a low impact on the wider neighbourhood and/or street scene requiring specific planning permission.


Appendix B - bullet point 2 (iii)


An improvement to appeals process.” 


A Member, in his opinion, felt that this could mean that the public would be allowed to appeal against permissions already granted.  The Development Services Manager advised that there would not be any proposals for a third party right of appeal.


Appendix B – page 15


“Neighbourhood Agreements”


Officers had been asked for their views on the general principle of introducing a streamlined process for approval of minor development which did not have the benefit of permitted development rights and where the neighbours to the proposed development were in agreement. Members were made aware that the Officers had responded with the following concerns and requested that these comments be taken forward:


-          How to control visual impact on wider area

-          Coercion

-          Current regime considers impact on future occupants

-          What effect would concerns from statutory consultees had – EHO’s?

-          Diminish role of Parish Councils.


Appendix B - page 15 (ii)


“Streamlining the application process – aim to minimise the burden places upon those seeking planning permission for development”. 


Members agreed that point (b) “to allow minor amendments to be made to planning permissions” be removed.


Appendix B - page 16


Members were made aware that “steamlining the information requirements for all applications” had been put back until April 2008.


Appendix C - page 18


To improve the appeal process in the planning system with the aim to speed up the appeals process with greater efficiency whilst achieving better value for money for the tax payer


A Member felt that this was the Government’s way of trying to offload the responsibility of Appeals onto local councils.




Local Member Review Bodies (LMRB)


Members were informed that there was further work to be done on this matter.


Determining the Appeal Method


A review paper on the above matter would be brought forward to this Committee at a later date.


Appendix C – page 19 – 5th bullet point


Detailed proposals for the Appeal process” - “The Secretary of State to have the power to refuse to consider any change to the scheme or evidence available to the Local Planning Authority at the time of determination”.


The Development Services Manager advised that this would mean that once the application had gone to Appeal the appellant might not be able to bring further information forward. 


Appendix D - page 20


The proposed changes to permitted development - the aim was to create a more permissive regime than currently exists, thereby reducing the number of applications”.


The proposed changes were to be based on an impact approach rather than square meterage. The first proposal needed further clarification.  The fifth proposal which concerned compensation being payable for a period of 12 months from the introduction of the new system was going to be extremely difficult and the Development Services Manager was uncertain how that proposal was going to work.


Page 21


“Householder Permitted Development Rights”


Members were generally concerned about the relaxing of these rights.  Members felt that overlooking had not been addressed and that there would be a greater risk of flooding in the area if the public were allowed to install more hard-standings without seeking the relevant drainage advice.


Page 22


“Roof Alterations – Aimed at control/promotion of solar panels”


A Member felt that the above should also include the promotion of garden turbines under permitted development.


Appendix E – page 23


“Planning Fees in England”. 


The options available were as follows:


1)      No change to the current system

2)      Increase fees by 40% excluding householder applications which will not go up by more than £10 (i.e £135 - £145)

3)      To increase fees by 25% excluding householders applications as in 2) above.


The Committee was informed that the Government’s preference was option 3. 


Appendix 1 – answers to questions with regard to fees:


Q1 – Members felt that an increase of 25% was reasonable.

Q2 – Members felt that a 40% increase was too much.

Q3 – It was felt that there would be no unintended consequences.

Q4 – noted.

Q5 – Current fee maximums were not serving any useful purpose.

Q6 – noted.

Q7 – It would be a dangerous route to take if a Local Planning Authority      offered a premium service.

Q8 – There was some advantage in having planning fees set nationally.

Q9 – noted.


RESOLVED that the aforementioned views of the Development Control Committee be noted.


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